BT has announced a change in strategy which will bring the government's target of UK-wide broadband access closer.
Communities currently left off the broadband map would no longer have to reach broadband trigger levels, said BT's chief broadband officer Alison Ritchie. This is where a certain amount of local interest in broadband has to be expressed before local exchanges would be converted to deliver broadband services.
She said, "This decision will mean we will automatically convert more than 1,100 extra exchanges by mid-2005."
These upgrades would mean 99.6% of the UK population would be able to receive broadband access to the internet. However, this would still leave nearly 600 exchanges, mainly in rural parts of Scotland and Wales, without fast internet access.
BT said these areas could be reached using a wireless broadband network similar to the one it has established in Northern Ireland. This combines established ADSL technology with wireless products from Alvarion.
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Telecoms regulator Ofcom has moved to boost broadband competition by ruling that BT rivals will now only be required to pay BT Wholesale £11 instead of £50, when their customers choose to change from one BT Wholesale broadband service to another.
BT Wholesale supplies services to other telecoms providers which re-brand them to their own customers.